Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

David Coogan

Second Advisor

Laura Browder

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Hodges

Fourth Advisor

John Accordino


This paper looks at how preservationists in Oregon Hill, a gentrifying neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia, appropriated the identity of its working class residents, particularly through claims on a particular cluster of houses. By reframing the meaning of the houses, from homes to sites of historic significance, the preservationists began to “write” themselves into their environment. That is, by engaging the site of the houses both temporally (through narrative) and spatially (by establishing political boundaries), preservationists carved out a space for themselves in the neighborhood. This paper addresses the problems with this process, including the preservationists’ apparent lack of regard for a viable community as anything more than artifact, but also their masking of racial tensions in the neighborhood. Ultimately, though, it shows that preservation is a progressive act, and further, that place, rather than a representation of either progress or preservation, is actually the scene of the dialectic between both.


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Date of Submission


Available for download on Sunday, May 14, 2215